Biden HHS officials urged WPATH to remove age limits for transgender surgeries: report

Rachel (Richard) Levine, a trans-identified nominee for Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on February 25, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Levine previously served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Rachel (Richard) Levine, a trans-identified nominee for Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services, testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on February 25, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Levine previously served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. | Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

Biden administration health officials urged an international group of medical experts to remove age limits for body-altering surgeries for minors suffering from gender dysphoria, according to newly released email excerpts. 

The email excerpts from the LGBT health association World Professional Association for Transgender Health recount how staff working for a top trans-identified leader at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services apparently succeeded in persuading the organization to drop proposed limits for trans surgeries, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The email excerpts surrounding the staff of Rachel (Richard) Levine, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who identifies as a woman, and his staff are found in legal filings associated with a federal lawsuit challenging Alabama's ban on transgender surgeries and puberty blockers for minors.

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In 2021, WPATH released guidelines called Standards of Care, with media outlets noting that the group had removed a section on the minimum age requirements for children to obtain puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or undergo body-altering surgeries. WPATH claimed the purpose of the removal was to protect doctors from lawsuits. 

WPATH recommended in the draft guidelines lowering the age minimum to 14 for hormonal treatments, 15 for mastectomies, 16 for breast augmentation or facial surgeries and 17 for genital surgeries or hysterectomies, according to The Times. 

In one of the email excerpts, an unnamed WPATH member recalled an exchange with Sarah Boateng, Levine's then-chief of staff who later became principal deputy assistant secretary for health in October 2022.

"She is confident, based on the rhetoric she is hearing in D.C., and from what we have already seen, that these specific listings of ages, under 18, will result in devastating legislation for trans care," the WPATH member stated about Boateng. "She wonders if the specific ages can be taken out."

Another email about Levine said that the health official "was very concerned that having ages (mainly for surgery) will affect access to care for trans youth and maybe adults, too. Apparently, the situation in the U.S.A. is terrible, and she [meaning Levine] and the Biden administration worried that having ages in the document will make matters worse. She asked us to remove them."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment. 

The Times report follows a report last month that WPATH hired researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland to conduct a series of reviews on evidence that would support "gender-affirming" care. According to the activist group Do No Harm, emails released amid a legal challenge to North Carolina's age limits law suggest WPATH suppressed the findings that found "little to no evidence about children and adolescents."

"Although this email chain was initially marked 'Attorneys' EyescOnly,' the DOJ publicly released the document in a court filing this morning," Do No Harm reported in May. "What's worse, the documents show that WPATH restricted the Hopkins researchers' ability to publish their findings."

Do No Harm board chairman Stanley Goldfarb accused WPATH of an "outrageous rejection of good science and good medicine."

"The case for so-called gender affirming care grows weaker by the day," he said in a statement

During a July 2023 interview in an ABC Nightline segment called "Identity Denied: Trans in America," Levine said that minors shouldn't wait until they're 18 to undergo sex-change surgeries. He also claimed that so-called "gender-affirming care" for youth is "evidence-based" and that medical interventions for gender dysphoric minors can help them "explore" their gender identity.

"Adolescence is hard and puberty is hard," Levine said. "What if you're going through the wrong puberty? What if you inside feel that you are female, but now you're going through a male puberty?"

In a follow-up X post after the interview, Levine thanked the media outlet for hosting him and allowing him to discuss what he believes are "medically harmful" and "unscientific" bans that prevent minors from undergoing medical interventions to change their sex. 

The United Kingdom's National Health Service released its "Cass Report" earlier this year based on a review of transgender medical practices led by Dr. Hillary Cass, warning that studies claiming puberty blockers help improve the well-being of children suffering from gender dysphoria are of "poor" quality.

The review also recommended "extreme caution" for prescribing irreversible cross-sex hormones to minors. 

The report suggested a new, multi-layered approach to treating children who experience discomfort with their sex, one that includes the creation of local specialist services designed to meet the "wider needs" of youth experiencing gender dysphoria. These centers would provide "a wide range of services, helping young people to overcome the psychological and social needs and challenges they might face."

Cass, the retired former president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, authored the report following an exponential increase in youth seeking treatment for gender dysphoria.

"The reality is that we have no good evidence on the long-term outcomes of interventions to manage gender-related distress," Cass wrote in the report's introduction. 

Following the release of the Cass report, WPATH and its partners released a statement to the media claiming that her review was "rooted in the false premise that non-medical alternatives to care will result in less adolescent distress for most adolescents and is based on a lack of knowledge of and experience working with this patient population."

"It is harmful to perpetuate this notion and does not acknowledge the very real fact that medical pathways are an important treatment option for many young people," the statement reads. 

Chloe Cole, a detransitioner who took puberty blockers and had her breasts removed to appear more like a boy, has spoken publicly about how much she regrets her initial decision to transition. 

Last year, Cole filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, the Permanente Medical Group and affiliated healthcare professionals. She accused the medical groups of performing a "mutilating, mimicry sex change experiment" on her when she was only a teenager.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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